Marlins deal two relievers for Toronto's No. 4 prospect

August 3rd, 2022

MIAMI -- The Marlins' first and only move before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline addressed the organization’s future by sending right-handed relievers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop, along with a player to be named later, to the Blue Jays for shortstop/third-base prospect Jordan Groshans.

“We've had our eye on him for a while now, and we thought it was a good move,” general manager Kim Ng said. “This is a guy who's got a pretty good bat, a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter. It's something as you look out in our years, we're going to need some infielders, so thought he was a good one to add to the mix.”

Ranked as Toronto’s No. 4 prospect and No. 82 overall by MLB Pipeline, Groshans' star has dimmed slightly in 2022 at Triple-A Buffalo, where the 22-year-old slashed .250/.348/.296 with eight doubles and one home run in 67 games facing older competition. In ‘21, he hit .291/.367/.450 with 23 doubles and seven homers in 75 games at Double-A New Hampshire. According to Ng, the front office took into account the projections of organizational scouts when acquiring Groshans, the 12th overall pick in the 2018 Draft.

Marlins get: SS/3B Jordan Groshans (Blue Jays' No. 4 prospect, MLB Pipeline's No. 82 prospect)
Blue Jays get: RHP Anthony Bass, RHP Zach Pop, player to be named later

Even during a down season, Groshans showcased hitting ability (35 walks, 46 strikeouts), which falls in line with what the Marlins emphasized during the 2022 Draft: plate discipline and strike zone awareness. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder doesn’t have much of an issue making contact with velocity or breaking pitches, according to MLB Pipeline’s scouting report.

“It's always been a concern for me to try and get good pure hitters onto the club,” Ng said. “I’ve mentioned some of the teams that I've been associated with, worked for, and that was definitely part of our philosophy. Sometimes the market doesn't necessarily dictate that, but when it does, when you can, those are the things that I think are foundationally great elements to have as part of your game.”

Upper-level bats are hard to come by the system. Seventeen of the Marlins' Top 30 prospects are position players, but only JJ Bleday (No. 5), Peyton Burdick (No. 10) and Jerar Encarnacion (No. 20) fit the bill. All three are outfielders. Bleday was called up less than two weeks ago and is starting on a daily basis in center field, while Burdick and Encarnacion are at Triple-A Jacksonville.

Groshans, too, was assigned to Triple-A Jacksonville, where Ng wants the coaches’ takes on him before he receives a big league callup.

In return for Groshans, the Marlins parted with setup man Bass, who compiled a 290 ERA+, a 2.07 FIP and a 0.94 WHIP with 16 holds in 45 outings during a bounce-back campaign. His 1.4 fWAR is seventh highest among Major League relievers. In January 2021, Miami signed Bass to a two-year, $5 million contract to be its closer, which lasted just one week into the season after he blew his first two save chances. From that point on, Bass has a 2.18 ERA over 111 appearances.

Much of Bass' success this season, in particular, can be credited to his slider usage (up from 49.9 percent in 2021 to 56.8 percent in 2022) and his ability to retire left-handed bats (OPS against of 1.004 vs. .654 from '21-’22). The 34-year-old has a $3 million team option ($1 million buyout) for 2023.

“Every year, you're always learning a little bit about yourself – not only in baseball, but in life,” Bass said. “This past year, learning through my failures, working with [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] closely, having the trust of my boss and [manager Don Mattingly] really allowed me to just have a clear mindset moving forward into this season. Their trust in me is huge. Whenever you have confidence in yourself or people trust you that are in a higher position, it makes you feel good. I can't say enough good things about Donnie and Mel, for the trust that they've had in me. Playing for them was an honor.”

Acquired in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft from the Orioles, the 25-year-old Pop has a 3.98 ERA in 68 MLB appearances, mainly in middle relief. He is not arbitration-eligible until after next season. The right-hander, who missed nearly two years because of Tommy John surgery and the canceled Minor League season in 2020, has seen an increase in average velocity on his sinker (up from 95.4 mph to 96.5 mph), which has helped make him a ground-ball machine.